Consider the action of a push-up: pushing your body away from the floor from a face down position. What's the reverse of that? There are actually two different possibilities. In one, you're on all fours, but with your backside facing the ground; in the other, you're on your back pulling yourself away from the ground. Do both of these exercises along with a regular push-up, and you'll have a killer routine that works all the muscles of the upper body.
Reverse Push-Up: Version One
In the first version, you basically flip a regular push-up upside down. Instead of facing the floor, you face away from it. You bend your elbows and lower your butt down toward the floor and then push back up. This puts most of the work on the triceps along the backs of the upper arms, and in the shoulders. You also get some activity in your upper back and core.
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How to do it:
- Sit on the floor or on an exercise mat. Place your hands on the floor about 6 to 8 inches behind your hips and a little wider than hip distance. Keep your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Lift your hips a couple of inches off the floor. This is your starting position.
- Bend your elbows so that your hips lower down toward the floor. Lightly touch your rear end to the floor and then straighten your arms to lift back up to your starting position. Don't lock out your arms at the top.
Make the exercise more challenging by walking your feet out. Make it easier by leaving your hips on the floor and just bending and straightening your elbows so that only your upper body moves.
Read more: Push-Ups That Work the Shoulders
Reverse Push-Up: Version Two
In a push-up, you push yourself away from the floor, so it makes sense that in the second version of a reverse push-up, also called an inverted row, you pull yourself away from the floor. Pulling instead of pushing requires your back and biceps to do most of the work, instead of your chest and triceps, which do the work in a regular push-up.
You'll need a squat rack and barbell to do this exercise.
How to do it:
- Position a barbell in a squat rack about arm's length -- or a little higher -- from the ground.
- Lie on the ground on your back with your chest underneath the bar.
- Reach up and grasp the bar with an overhanded grip a little wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping your hips and core contracted and your body in one straight line, bend your elbows out to the side as you pull your upper chest up toward the bar.
- Pause at the top, then slowly lower back to the starting position.
If this is too difficult, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Gradually walk your feet out as you get stronger.
You can do this exercise at home with a sturdy table, bench or desk. Just lie underneath it and grasp the edge of the table the same way you would a barbell.
Read more: 10 Push-Up Variations for a Stronger Body